Cubs can feel Blackhawks buzz
There was plenty of buzz Thursday around Wrigley Field about the Blackhawks' thrilling Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings the previous night.
A contingent of Cubs players were on hand Wednesday at the United Center to see the Hawks advance to the NHL's Western Conference finals.
During the seventh-inning stretch, Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams cheered on the Hawks.
A winning feeling hasn't been present around the Cubs since 2008, and those associated with the club used the Hawks in talking about getting it back.
"We haven't had that many games where these guys (Cubs players) can see what these Chicago fans and what these big games are like," said ace pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who participated in the Hawks' shoot-the-puck game during an intermission of the hockey game.
"They're totally different when we're playing big games and everyone is coming out and fighting for tickets and there's that madhouse going on outside in the streets."
Samardzija said that just being in the UC was a thrill.
"It was exciting," he said. "I was on the far side when they scored the winning goal, so you're kind of looking down. It's just exciting to be in those situations and see how the fans are reacting, how excited everyone was, especially driving out of there after the game and seeing how excited everyone was.
"Not only that, but everyone is excited just to see more hockey out of those guys. They're a fun team to watch. The way they play just captures your interest. It's something to admire as an athlete and as a fan of sports."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum noticed it, too.
"You can't help but understand the passion of the fans and the city and see the electricity that went on last night in that stadium," he said. "You can't help but think the what-ifs and when it all comes together, what it would be like in this place and around Wrigleyville."
More bullpen moves:
The Cubs' bullpen revolving door continued to spin Thursday. They optioned Alex Burnett to Class AAA Iowa and selected the contract of right-hander Zach Putnam from that club.
Burnett, whom the Cubs picked up off waivers from Baltimore earlier this week, pitched 1 inning Wednesday.
Putnam was 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 17 games at Iowa. The Cubs claimed him off waivers from Colorado last November. He pitched one-third of an inning against the White Sox. Entering the day, he had pitched in 10 major-league games, for the Indians and Rockies.
Dale Sveum gave this scouting report on Putnam: "Good movement on his fastball. Obviously an out pitch with his split. He showed us in spring training he had a swing-and-miss split and got a lot of weak contact in spring training and obviously carried it over to Triple-A."
Putnam was a late cut in spring training.
"I had a pretty good spring and obviously was disappointed I wasn't able to come and break camp with the team," he said. "It's one of those things where you've got to keep on keeping on. I feel I started the season pretty well in Triple-A, so I'm happy to be up here."
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred reliever Kyuji Fujikawa from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Fujikawa will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
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